Welcome Remarks by Mrs Elaine Ng, Chief Executive Officer of the National Library Board, at the Official Opening of Selling Dreams: Early Advertising in Singapore Exhibition, Level 10, Gallery, National Library Building on 19 July 2018

Ms Sim Ann

Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information & Culture, Community and Youth

Distinguished guest

Ladies and gentlemen

1. A very warm welcome to all of you. Thank you for joining us here tonight at the official opening of the National Library’s Selling Dreams: Early Advertising in Singapore exhibition.

2.Print advertisements have been around for centuries, and even today, they continue to serve as fascinating cultural documents that shape and reflect society’s dreams and aspirations. This exhibition takes us back to an era of print advertisements from the 1830s to the 1960s in Singapore. The advertisements on display showcase products, services and brands that were part of Singapore’s busy consumer market in those years.

3. To make this exhibition a refreshing experience, we modelled it after a department store. Visitors will be able to browse vintage advertisements in different zones ranging from food, to travel and household. These advertisements are taken from publications, magazines, newspapers and ephemera within NLB’s rich Singapore and Southeast Asia collection. Through the exhibition, we hope that visitors can get a deeper understanding of Singapore’s past advertising scene.

4. One of the gems I want to single out is the Singapore Chronicle and Commercial Register, which is the first and only newspaper published in Singapore until 1835. This rare item in our exhibition is actually the oldest item and it features some of the earliest local advertisements in NLB’s collection dating back to 1833, so it is really exciting. You will also find advertisements of some familiar brand names, such as Tiger Balm, Cold Storage, and Bata.

5. As part of the exhibition which will run from tomorrow till February 2019, we also have a lot of programmes which include for the first time, parent-child workshops as we want to reach out to the very young as well. There will also be talks and workshops by advertising veterans and academics, guided tours by exhibition curators, and educational programmes for students and children.

6. To complement this exhibition, I am very excited to say that we have also produced a coffee-table book, a beautiful one which you might have seen on the table outside, called Between the Lines: Early Print Advertising in Singapore, 1830s to 1960s. It is co-written by NLB’s curators, librarians and Yu-Mei Balasingamchow. Thank you very much to all the colleagues who have put all your efforts into this book.

7. This exhibition would not have been possible without the help of our partners, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD). SPH generously extended their collection and resources on early advertising to us and they also helped us with the content development of the exhibition. SUTD’s lecturers and students specially created two interactive stations to enhance the visitor experience. Thank you very much for your support and contributions.

8. Finally, I won’t hold you back from this really wonderful exhibition. I would like to thank SMS Sim Ann – thank you very much for gracing this occasion. Please enjoy the exhibition, “shop” around, and have a wonderful evening.